How can I advertise on Google for free?
This was certainly up there as one of the most common questions we were asked during our time in the web development business. And, if you’re reading this, the chances are you’ve recently started a business or are a business owner/entrepreneur looking to do just that.
It’s not impossible to get a free advert (of sorts) on Google. But, before we get into how this can be done we first need to define what advertising on Google actually means. We’ll then move on to the most realistic way you can achieve this. We’ll also show you how you can use it to take advantage of an online trend many businesses (especially in the B2B sector) are not capitalizing on – but should.
To begin, let’s look at the two main types of ‘advert’ on Google.
1: Google Ads
Google Ads (formerly known as Google Adwords) is Google’s premier advertising platform.
In its simplest form, it allows you to bid on the keywords you’d like your business to appear for in the Google search results. Very broadly speaking, the more you pay the higher you will appear.
In its latest incarnation, you can also profile the individuals you’d like to target using a variety of demographics that Google gathers from users of its Android phone OS and web platforms.
Behind the scenes, there are other factors at play that determine how often your ad is shown and how well it ranks. For example, Google analyses the content of your website to see how relevant it is to your ad content and the keywords you are bidding on. The higher the perceived relevance the better your ad will do.
However, describing how it works in more detail is this the subject of another article. And, the above was only designed to provide a basic grounding only. For now, we’ll return to the main question.
Can you advertise here for free?
The truth is there are no free rides in Google Ads. You can often find Ad vouchers. But, in order to claim these, you still have to deposit money in your Ad account. So, in effect, you only get discounted advertising.
The key thing to remember is that since the Google Adwords platform launched in 2002 it transformed Google from a relatively new startup to the global giant it is today. It didn’t achieve this by allowing everyone to advertise for free.
However, there is another way you can advertise on Google for free. It requires a slight shift in perspective and little leg work on your part. But it can be done.
2: Organic Listings
When we refer to organic positions in Google we are referring to the listings in the search engine results that are not adverts. They look like this:
Each organic listing can be considered a mini-advert – because essentially they are. They connect people looking for a business, service or product to a website that fulfills this request. In this scenario, that would be a website owned by a business or that provides information about a business.
The key is finding a way to appear in more of these listings outside of just your website so you dominate more organic listings.
This is especially important when potential clients are considering using your business. This is referred to as being in the ‘buying cycle’. It is when an individual knows they need your services, have heard of your business, and are looking for more information on your company.
You need to make sure the information they see provides a kind of ‘online proof’ that your business is trustworthy and reputable. And, you need more than just your website to do this.
But, why is this important?
A Recent Change In How People Use The Internet
This is all due to a relatively recent, and increasing change, in how people use the Internet to help them buy.
Although the figures vary, it is generally agreed that around 80-90% of people now use the Internet to research businesses to help them make purchasing decisions. This means that every-time an individual considers using your business 8 out of 10 of them will look online to find out more information on your company before they buy.
With this change in buying habits, it is more important than ever to manage your online reputation. Having a non-existent or worse, a poor online reputation, can cause the money you spend on advertising to be less effective.
Two Places You Can Get These Free ‘Adverts’
Outside of the large social networking sites, there are two main places you can use to advertise your business and claim more organic listings when people search for your business.
The first is by listing your company in free business directories. These used to be one of the mainstays of the SEO world. They were used by businesses to help boost their rankings in Google. Whilst these alone won’t work for this purpose any-more. They are an easy way to get another listing in Google for your business.
The second, and most effective, is by using online review sites. Your potential clients can read reviews left by your customers as a form of social proof that shows your business is trustworthy.
The only problem here is that online review sites can sometimes be expensive to use. Some ask for some rather hefty fees and this makes using this technique slightly more challenging. So, as is commonplace with online marketing, we need to find another way to get the same result.
One way is by using the functionality of business directories. Some offer a review system, whereby visitors to your profile can leave reviews for your business.
A Second Option
Another way is by using listings on B2B platforms which offer a similar kind of service. You can list your business and get reviews. However, the advantage these have over simple business directories. This is because you can invite your existing professional network to join the site and leave reviews for your business.
Every review left by another company on the B2B platform creates a link to the profile of the reviewer. This, in turn, allows anyone reading your reviews to click the link and view the profile. This increases the validity of the review because it’s not just a random person’s name that cannot be checked or validated. It’s another real business, with a profile and information they can read. In essence, it removes all doubt that the review could be fake.
How To Find These Sites
Here Google is your friend. Begin by searching for ‘free business directories’ or ‘free business review sites’. This will start you off on your journey to finding places to get listed.
But you need to be careful. All business directories are not created equal. If you’ve not read our guide on free business directory listings we recommend you do before getting started. It tells you what to look for and what to avoid.
We also own a B2B platform your business can use to not only get a listing but also an online review system. It’s free and you can find out more about it and how to list your business here.
We recommend you start by listing your business in around 5 different sites. You also need to be patient. It will take time for Google to show these when a search for made on your business name. You can help increase the chances of this happening sooner by ensuring you complete your profile. This helps Google see the page as more ‘relevant’ to your business.
To Sum Up
With a bit of creative thinking, claiming a kind of free advertising in Google is possible.
Obviously, this won’t be as powerful as paying Google directly to send visitors to your website. But this can be expensive and even using their Ad platform takes some time to learn and master. The methods we’ve shown in this article show you how to take advantage of another online trend many businesses are still ignoring and claim a few free listings in Google at the same time too.